The appellant stated that an 86-metre stretch of wall would have to be completely demolished, in part owing to its very poor physical condition. The council had issued a notice under section 54 of the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 requiring the execution of works which were urgently necessary for its preservation, arguing that it made a valuable contribution to the house's setting and the conservation area's character.
The homes would be located on mainly open fields that originally formed part of the grounds of the mansion, which the inspector considered had great architectural and historic interest. Although the grounds could not be described as forming parkland, he noted that they served recreational and functional purposes including gardens, farming, food production and grazing. The wall formed part of the original boundary to the estate and was important as a curtilage listed structure, he held.
He concluded that the site was very sensitive and subject to three layers of protection as the setting of a very important listed building, a significant part of the conservation area and a park and garden of key local interest. He feared that the proposal would prevent future generations from appreciating the designed seclusion of the house and cause substantial harm to its heritage value.
Since heritage assets are irreplaceable, the inspector reasoned that the benefits of the scheme had to be correspondingly weighty. In his view, the scope to deliver open market and affordable housing, while important, was insufficient to allow the appeal. He placed little weight on improved tree management and protection, a tree preservation order was already in place.
Inspector: Colin Ball; Inquiry